High Court approves adoption of girl without consulting birth father

High Court approves adoption of girl without consulting birth father

The High Court has granted approval for the making of an adoption order for a girl without consulting her birth father.

The order was sought by the Adoption Authority of Ireland so the girl, now aged 18, could be adopted by her birth mother’s husband who has cared for her for some 14 years.

In a judgment published this week, Mr Justice John Jordan was satisfied to make an order under Section 30.3 of the Adoption Act approving the proposed adoption without consulting the birth father.

The evidence satisfied him, as a matter of probability, the birth father has effectively made himself non-contactable, the judge said.

The background circumstances also proved that it was the father, who last saw his daughter in 2009 and appeared to have last spoken to her by phone on her birthday in 2014, who has ceased contact with his daughter and her mother, he said.

All steps

It was also apparent that the Authority, the Child and Family Agency and the mother have taken all steps reasonably practicable to enable consultation with the birth father to take place, he said.

The efforts of the Authority and the Agency to make contact with the birth father had occurred independently of the birth mother and have been unsuccessful, he said.

He said a “child centred approach” is required to the interpretation of section 30 in circumstances where the welfare of the child is the first and paramount consideration.

The mother was in a relationship with the proposed adoptive father for some years, they had married in 2017 and have another child. The Authority had issued a declaration of eligibility and suitability of the proposed adoptive father in relation to the adoption of the girl in October 2019.

The birth father was aware of his daughter’s birth and is registered as her father on her birth certificate. Her mother was in a relationship with him for nine years and their relationship continued for five months after the child’s birth.

Extensive communication

The mother does not know whether he is currently married or in a civil partnership. The judge said the birth father may not know of the proposed adoption, but there had been extensive communication with close relatives of his advising of the proposed adoption and the need to get in touch with him in that regard.

It seems “most improbable” that news of the proposed adoption did not reach the birth father, the judge said.

The birth father has not been appointed guardian of the child, he noted. The mother had provided his date of birth, PPS number and last known address and appeared to have co-operated fully with efforts to locate him to ascertain his views. An updated birth certificate had registered him as “emigrated”.

The girl had told a social worker she is not curious to obtain more information about her birth father and does not wish to have a relationship with him at this time, the judge noted. She believes she can rely on her mother to provide her with information about him into the future should she wish to obtain further details.

It is clear the girl is in favour of the proposed adoption and considers the proposed adoptive father to be her “Dad” in circumstances where he has cared for her for some 14 years, he said.

Having considered the relevant law, the judge said he would make an adoption approval order under section 30.3 of the Act. He was satisfied the birth father has, for many years not been, and is not interested in maintaining a relationship with his daughter, much less in being available to be consulted about her proposed adoption, he said.

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